SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party(JKAP) leader and former legislator Rafi Ahmad Mir on Monday censured the government for a hike in road tax levied on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway at Awantipora, Nashree-Chenani Tunnel and Unhampur toll plazas and demanded the immediate abolition of such avoidable tolls.
In a statement issued here, Mir said imposing and increasing the road tolls will further alienate masses at a time when the government is expected to provide some succour to the people who are battling for their survival amid COVID pandemic.
“The increase in road tax would not only hamper the domestic tourism badly but would prove a heavy burden on the commuters who use this highway for a routine inter-district travel,” he remarked.
Mir said that paying taxes is no doubt the duty of every citizen but first the J&K government needs to introspect the fact that people are passing through tough times because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on their economic conditions.
“We were given a notion by the government last year that post-GST, tariff-based barriers have been removed completely. The continuation of the road tax regime, therefore, militates against the idea of ‘one nation, one tax.
“Tariff-based import or export of commodities into and from the UT distorts the trade regime also. It acts against the overall consumer interest by imposing an avoidable cost on them,” the JKAP leader observed.
He said the imposition of toll tax not only penalises consumers by increasing the cost of commodities entering and exiting from the UT but it also affects the common people who travel on this road because of the dilapidated condition of their other alternatives.
The way, J&K UT administration abolished all inter-state minor toll posts, those set up at railway stations and airports and the one at Lakhanpur, Mir appealed the Lieutenant Governor G.C Murmu, go for the abolition of road tax at different toll plazas on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway to provide relief to the people.
He also castigated the administration for the delay in distribution of travel passes to the locals having private vehicles, living within 20 kilometres radius of toll plazas on this highway.
“The divisional administration in Kashmir had assured that local vehicles at Chachkoot toll plaza near Awantipora falling under a radius of 20 Kilometres of toll plaza would be exempted from tax. But it seems the divisional administration has not fulfilled its assurances and instead people are subjected to pay an enhanced toll at these plazas,” he opined.